I loved Super Monkey Ball when I first tried it out. Amusement Vision’s game was simple enough for anyone to play, but it felt impossible to master. It also had monkeys and I don’t think that’s ever hurt a game. Now it seems like there is a marble labyrinth genre between games like Mercury Meltdown Revolution, Switchball and Fading Shadows.
What’s Fading Shadows? It’s a project done by Ivolgamus in Lithuania for the PSP. Essentially, Fading Shadows is a marble rolling game with a storyline. See the orb actually contains Erwyn’s soul, which is required for an evil force to break into Heaven. Since you don’t want that to happen you have to bring the soul back To Erwyn. The
marble soul can change into different forms like wood or glass and you guide it by making it follow a beam of light (read: cursor). While mashing fantasy elements has worked well for other genres, I’m not convinced every game needs to do this to succeed.
Super Monkey Ball didn’t even attempt to explain why the monkeys were in the hamster balls or how rolling into bananas was futile. How can monkeys trapped in plastic balls enjoy eating bananas outside their translucent prison?